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Garlic, Allium sativum, originated in Asia and was gradually migrated to west, first to the Mediterranean basin, and then eventually to Europe and to the Americas at the beginning of the 16th century.
From the very beginning, garlic was recognized for its smell, flavour and medicinal properties. It is a vegetable, but some people regard garlic as an herb, others treat powdered garlic as spice and yet others purchase it in form of capsules as medicine.
Scientists recognize garlic as a powerful food promoting good heath mainly for its sulphur compounds, but sophisticated individuals shun it. For this reason French chefs use garlic cloves in their frying oil or butter just to flavour it, then discard the offending garlic. This may provide a soupcon of garlic flavour but its medicinal properties remain questionable in such treatment. Garlic contains iron, zinc, copper, manganese, calcium and vitamins.
Chinese chefs make extensive use of garlic and much of it is imported from China, although substantial quantities grow in the Americas.
Garlic is also available peeled or chopped or minced or creamed and preserved in oil, or powdered, but fresh garlic remains unsurpassed in its taste. The efficacy of garlic capsules, popular in Germany, has been often questioned and some scientists believe the only way it can be beneficial is when used fresh and in moderation.
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu
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